Studying the longitudinal effects of housing policies on health indicators and outcomes

Policy decisions made in nonhealth sectors can have substantial unanticipated effects on the health of affected populations. A scientific evidence base regarding these effects on health should inform and influence policy decisions made in other sectors. Moving To Opportunity (MTO) is a national demonstration program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Starting in 1994, 4,600 public housing families in 5 different cities were enrolled in a controlled, random-assignment, housing relocation experiment, designed to answer definitively questions about the long-term impacts of moving families from high-poverty to low-poverty communities. HUD's immediate objective was to measure the impact of mobility counseling on families' location choices and on their housing and neighborhood conditions, but also of interest was the impact of neighborhood conditions on the employment, income, and education of MTO family members. HUD's baseline data collection and planned outcomes evaluation did not consider information pertaining to health status, although the 1997 preliminary evaluation did find significant improvements in those who relocated in the few health items measured. The purpose of this project is to provide the first opportunity to reach credible estimates of the causal effects of neighborhoods on the health and well-being of children and adults from disadvantaged families. The MTO design offers a unique opportunity to assess pathways and affect sizes of neighborhood social and environmental factors on health, and to find policy-modifiable causes of the dramatic disparities in health observed between different populations. The MTO five-year evaluation would proceed without this foundation's support, but it would not include an assessment of the leading health indicators and other specific health outcomes of adults and children.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $748,572.00

Awarded on: 7/13/2001

Time frame: 9/1/2001 - 8/31/2002

Grant Number: 40075


Jeffrey Kling
Project Director